Flint, MI–At its recent meeting, Flint City Council agreed to renew a contract with the city’s ARPA compliance firm, appeal the outcome of a lawsuit from a former member, and approved appointments to Flint’s Downtown Development Authority and Zoning Board of Appeals.
Council also sent resolutions to amend its rules and to lease city-owned golf courses back to committees for further discussion.
Here’s a breakdown of everything that happened at the council meeting on Dec. 12, 2022:
Sent proposed amendments to Council rules back to committee
A resolution to conduct a public hearing on changes to the Rules Governing Meetings of the Flint City Council was ultimately sent back to the Governmental Operations Committee for further review.
If approved as proposed, the changes would include requiring City Council or its subcommittees to adjourn at 10:00 p.m. unless two-thirds majority of councilmembers suspend that particular rule.
“I’m just now getting a copy of these, and to me, there’s a few ‘gotcha’ rules that I don’t support,” Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer said. “Now we have to have a two-thirds vote for the meeting to extend past 10 p.m.? So, we’re just going to stop the city business at 10 p.m.? That is not what we got elected for.”
Both Pfeiffer and Councilman Eric Mays indicated that they wanted to review the changes “line by line” at the next Governmental Operations Committee meeting.
When Mays asked who proposed the rules changes, Council Vice President Ladel Lewis said that they came from the rules committee made up of Councilwoman Judy Priestley, City Attorney William Kim, and herself.
Council President Allie Herkenroder added that according to rule 33.1 in the current Rules Governing Meetings, the Council must review its rules every December.
Mays motioned for the resolution to be sent back to the Governmental Operations Committee for further discussion and possible changes.
Council voted 7-0 in favor of the motion.
Mays was joined by Pfieffer, Lewis, Herkenroder, Priestley, and Councilmembers Jerri Winfrey-Carter and Tonya Burns in voting yes.
Councilmembers Quincy Murphy and Eva Worthing were absent for the vote.
Sent a lease agreement for two city-owned golf courses back to Finance Committee
Council voted 6-1 to send a resolution to lease the Swartz Creek and Kearsley Lake golf courses to Flint City Golf, LLC back to its Finance Committee for a second time.
Lewis, Pfeiffer, Worthing, Mays, Priestley and Winfrey-Carter voted yes. Herkenroder voted no. Councilmembers Quincy Murphy and Tonya Burns were absent for the vote.
Flint City Golf is already leasing the courses from the City, and the agreement would effectively extend their agreement through 2028.
If approved according to the Dec. 12 resolution language, Flint City Golf, LLC would pay the City of Flint $8,305.41 annually for the Swartz Creek Golf Course and $6,921.17 annually for the Kearsley Lake Golf Course, both increasing by three percent per year.
Citing his knowledge about golf, Pfeiffer claimed that these courses were “severely undervalued.”
Murphy echoed Pfeiffer’s concerns about the lease’s annual payments, saying that the amounts would have been “extremely low” even in 2014, when the city entered the agreement.
“The original lease agreement for these golf courses was April 11, 2014,” Murphy said. “When you look at who signed off on this, it was Darnell Earley, the emergency manager. You know where the emergency manager got us.”
Priestley noted the golf courses are earning “very low” annual profits or negative net incomes, and one of her biggest objections was that the leasee didn’t seem to be paying personal property tax.
“Based on their financial statements, they don’t have much in the way of equipment—$70,000 in equipment in 2019,” Priestley said. “That’s not a lot, but it’s still $1,000, maybe, in personal property tax money into the city.”
Herkenroder said that her “personal thoughts about golf are none-too-pleasant to the sport for a number of reasons,” and noted that golf courses have a negative impact on the environment.
Following Council’s 6-1 decision, the Finance Committee will review the lease agreement once again on Dec. 19. Pfeiffer and other councilmembers suggested bidding out the golf courses to other leasees, but no such resolution was proposed at Council’s Dec. 12 meeting.
Approved appointments to the Downtown Development Authority and Zoning Board of Appeals
Councilman Quincy Murphy motioned to approve three appointments, which passed by a 9-0 vote. These appointments included appointing Montel Menifee and soon-to-be City Clerk Davina Donahue to the Flint Downtown Development Authority board, both for the remainder of terms expiring in February 2024.
Donahue is replacing former city clerk Inez Brown’s seat on the DDA board, and Menifee is filling a vacancy left by Adrian Walker, who moved out of the district.
The third appointment was Ari McCaskill to the Zoning Board of Appeals, beginning immediately and ending on Sept. 1, 2025. McCaskill is replacing Johnnetta S.C. Ricks.
Approved the readings of ordinances
Council voted 7-0 to approve the first reading of a payment in lieu of taxes agreement for a mixed-use development project at 719 Harrison St. Murphy and Worthing were absent for the vote.
Council also voted 7-0 to approve the second and final reading of an ordinance rezoning the South Flint Plaza Development at 4811 Fenton Rd. from “CC” City Corridor to “CE” Commerce and Employment. The property’s owner, Deda Juncevic, hopes to attract commercial tenants to the space, referring to the units as “contractor condos,” according to his application.
Mays said he wished to ask additional questions before approving the latter ordinance, but Flint’s Planning and Development Director Suzanne Wilcox was absent when Council considered the resolution.
Voted to appeal a Michigan Court of Appeals decision
Council voted 5-2 to appeal the Michigan Court of Appeals’ decision not to rule on former councilwoman Kate Fields’ lawsuit against Flint City Council. Fields had originally filed the suit after the former Council had barred her from speaking for 30 days.
Mays, Priestley, Winfrey-Carter, Burns, and Herkenroder voted yes on the appeal. Lewis and Pfeiffer voted no. Murphy and Worthing were absent.
City Attorney Bill Kim said that the case involves a disciplinary action against former Flint City Council president Kate Fields, who no longer serves on Council and left office after the November 2021 election.
“I’m going to vote against this because I think this is a waste of city dollars,” Pfeiffer said of his decision. “As Mrs. Fields isn’t here, this only serves to fill the agenda against former councilwoman Kate Fields, and to be honest with you, there’s a vast majority of things we can spend $5,000 that would suit the community better.”
Mays said he would vote in favor of the appeal as he felt the same thing had happened to him during his Council presidency, from which he was removed by Council vote in April 2022. Mays has also since filed suit against Flint City Council.
“I don’t care what the rest of them do, because the same thing happened to me in my presidency,” he said. “I’m president, three or four months later, the new councilpersons–like my grandmother said–got too big for their breaches, and, in my opinion, wrongfully removed me from the presidency.”
Mays said he thinks his peers did not follow proper procedure in removing him, which he claimed happened to Fields as well.
“Councilmember Mays’ understanding of the case does not match with mine and does not match with my understanding of the reason why the court ruled on that case and the issues that are being raised on appeal,” Kim said. “Beyond that, I’m not comfortable discussing that in an open meeting.”
Renewed the contract with the City’s ARPA administration and compliance firm
Council voted 7-0 to renew its contract with Ernst & Young, LLC, the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) administration, compliance, and implementation firm. Murphy and Worthing were absent for the vote.
Ernst & Young has been providing ARPA compliance guidance to the City since January 2022. The resolution renewed their contract for another year at an amount not to exceed $884,380.
Voted to approve the purchase of equipment, a change order for a water main replacement project, and a resolution of condolence for Bryant Nolden
Council voted unanimously to approve seven other resolutions under a master resolution and a liquor license for Provision’s Shop and Sitdown in Ward 5. The master resolution included:
- Entering a $667,355 contract with Lighthouse Group for property and terrorism coverage for a 12-month period beginning Nov. 30, 2022. Council previously entered a contract with the same agency for general liability and terrorism coverage at its Nov. 28 meeting.
- Authorizing the Division of Purchasing and Supplies to issue a purchase order for the lease end buyout of three backhoe loaders and one wheel loader for $318,784.77 and a purchase order for a Pelican street sweeper for $272,883.05.
- A $10,000 change order with Zito Construction Company for additional asphalt and gravel for replacement of a water main on Miller Road between Hammerberg Road and Ballenger Highway.
- Authorizing a $125,266.56 payment for the final year of a five-year lease-to-own agreement with AIS Construction Equipment, plus a $11,201 payment for a Vogele Paver and a Hamm Roller, for a total of $136,467.56.
- Accepting a $127,000 grant from the Flint Police Foundation. According to the agenda packet, this grant will be used for Neighborhood Safety Officers and Police Department data analyst wages and fringe benefits.
- Passing a resolution of condolence for Genesee County Commissioner and former Flint City Councilmember Bryant “B.B.” Nolden, who passed away on Dec. 7, 2022.